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March 18, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Reflection:

The paradox asked of Jesus’ followers is to grasp his glory shining through the ugliness of the scourging, the nailing to the cross and his agonizing death. How? Jesus knows he is the long-awaited savior bringing salvation to the whole world. While knowing these consequences for God’s creation, Jesus also knows the consequences for himself. Yet he choses this pathway, the pain and the glory, because he loves his Father, and he loves God’s creation.

Lent is set aside for Christians to fathom this choice. The God-man, Jesus Christ, understanding every detail, chooses to do it anyway. Lent replays Christ’s heroic crucifixion as an action freely and generously done for the world’s salvation and invites believers to embrace it.

The Crucifixion means believers are reconciled with the Father, the vanquishing of death, the resurrection of the dead and an eternity spent in the loving embrace of the creator. All these benefits Christ gave at no cost to those who believe, except one: believe and express it with unending gratitude.

This is the Lenten journey’s purpose: that disciples believe in Jesus’ hour enough to transform their lives. Their discipleship then follows the way of Jesus’ suffering, offering “prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” but always with hope in the glory to come.

Vince felt alone when his wife died. He was depressed and despondent. His pastor asked him to help with the parish phone ministry. Twice a week, volunteers call the homebound to ask if they are well or needed anything. Vince accepted. In fact, he became so involved that he had favorites. Everyone looked forward to Vince’s call.

Vince’s own suffering turned to joy as he ministered to the homebound. In giving hope, Vince received hope. Through his ministry, Vince brought the reality of Jesus’ glory to life.

Many disciples do what Vince does. Why? Because Jesus never counted the cost. In charity and kindness, Jesus’ glory shines.

There are many paths to that same glory. Jesus shows that new life begins only when this dying to self begins. This is a disciple’s path to glory.

Giving of self

“No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.”

The Rule of St. Benedict

Homily Helps for the February issue were written by FATHER RICHARD R. DE LILLIO, OSFS, D. Min., an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who is a recently retired associate professor of homiletics at The Catholic University of America.